Med thumb pregnant

Trying to bank some extra sleep before you give birth? Good luck. There are myriad ways your growing belly can interfere with a peaceful night’s rest while you’re preggers. In fact, a 2014 study found that three in four pregnant women experience sleep deprivation during their term.

From disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea to pregnancy-related symptoms such as heartburn and general discomfort, you may feel like your body is conspiring against you. While you may sleep fine (and a lot) in your first trimester, disruptions can pop up at any time during those nine months. So, don’t count your blessings until the blessed event arrives.

Here are six common issues that will sap your sleep.


While hormones can wreak all kinds of havoc on your rest, often pregnancy insomnia can also be caused by anxiety. You may worry about your baby’s health, your health, the nursery decor, whether you can really go through with natural childbirth, how you’ll pay for the kid’s college… You know, those insignificant little concerns.

What You Can Do

Get serious about sleep hygiene . Get some daily exercise, steer clear of caffeine, sugar and alcohol, keep regular sleep/wake hours and reserve bed time for sleeping or sex. (Because, if you’re feelin’ it, go for it.)

Restless Leg Syndrome

About one in five pregnant women suffers from RLS, painful tingling or burning sensations that can startle you from sleep, along with an uncontrollable urge to kick or move your legs to relieve the symptoms. While leg cramps are also common in pregnancy, those are different. They’re distinct contractions of your muscles, not the telltale skin-crawly pins and needles feeling RLS brings on.

What You Can Do

Talk to your OB/Gyn. He or she may recommend eliminating caffeine entirely, since even a small amount can worsen symptoms. Some OTC meds like antihistamines can do the same. RLS may also may be caused by low levels of iron or folate, so your doc may test you for deficiencies. If you are low, supplements and eating foods high in those essential vitamins/minerals can help. Fortunately, RLS developed during pregnancy is almost always temporary.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is very common when you’ve got a bun in the oven — even if you’ve never had problems with acid reflux before. At issue are pregnancy hormones that relax the muscles in your digestive tract, including the esophageal valve, which normally prevents the contents from your stomach, and the stomach acid, from flowing back up. The condition can worsen in the second and third trimester, when your growing uterus puts pressure on your stomach. Lying down can also worsen symptoms.

What You Can Do

Think about eating larger meals during the day, and a lighter meal at night. Also, consider keeping a food log so you can pinpoint which foods trigger indigestion. Tomato sauce, carbonated beverages, greasy or fatty foods and spicy meals are common culprits.

Your Bursting Bladder

You’ve probably noticed that you have to pee every 10 minutes. Frequent urination is due to hormonal changes (those hormones again), which cause blood to flow more quickly through your kidneys, so your bladder gets filled up more often. As your pregnancy progresses, your growing baby (and uterus) puts pressure on your bladder. And then there are all the extra fluids you need to be drinking.

What You Can Do

First and foremost, avoid beverages that have a mild diuretic effect — coffee, tea and alcohol. Hydrate plenty during the day, but then lay off the fluids an hour or two before bed. And when you do pee, make sure you empty your bladder completely. As one mom on put it, it’s nature’s cruel way of training you for the many nights of interrupted sleep once your little monster arrives.

Sleep-Disordered Breathing

Weight gain, hormonal changes (of course) and fluid retention (which can swell your upper airways) make mothers to be prime candidates for sleep disorders. You’ll want to mention snoring incidents to your doctor to rule out sleep apnea, which is linked to high blood pressure, or preeclampsia. One Swedish study found that pregnant snorers were more than twice as likely to develop hypertension, and that their babies had lower birth weights.

What You Can Do

It’s likely your partner will let you know if you’re snoring. If he describes it as looking like you’re gasping for breath, make sure to tell your doctor. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP devices) can help lower risks for 90 percent of pregnant snorers. If it’s nasal congestion causing your log sawing, try a saline nose spray.

General Discomfort

Your growing belly may be put pressure on your back, which radiates all sorts of aches and pains throughout the body. What’s more, you can’t sleep on your stomach, and to ensure your kid’s health you shouldn’t sleep on your back.

What You Can Do

Doctors recommend that women sleep on their left side with knees bent, which helps to improve circulation between the heart, fetus, uterus and kidneys. The problem? You many experience some hip pain. You can switch sides for a short spell to alleviate the soreness, but using pillows may do the trick. Place one between your knees, and have your partner position a pillow or bolster at the small of your back.